ATA News

Protect your mental health this back-to-school season

The fall always brings mixed feelings, and it has been a wild ride these past few start-of-school seasons since COVID-19 introduced itself. This year, however, I feel a shift toward our “new normal” more so than last year. It was easier to relax and recharge my batteries before the start of another fall. 

For teachers, this time of year is filled with lesson plans, designing engaging spaces and bringing the “fresh start” magic to the classroom. This year, I have been reflecting on what back-to-school will feel like and have been searching for strategies for maintaining (or at the very least refilling) my energy and protecting my mental health. 

You too? 

Great! Sharing is caring, so here are some tips and resources I have found useful:

  1. Get into HEARTcare planning.
    Did you know the ATA partnered with the University of Calgary and the Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan (ASEBP) on a study exploring educator well-being in Alberta? The study started prior to the pandemic and continues to evolve, with the aim of supporting teachers to be well in their profession.

    HEARTcare ( is a planning tool designed to help you connect with valuable systems, programs and resources to develop true support in being well during the school year. I did my Heartwork, did you?
  2. Become comfortable with the psychological benefits from your provider.
    Investigate what coverage for psychological support your plan offers, including psychological and counselling services and the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP). Having had a bit of time before the year gets into full swing, I decided to look what EFAP has to offer. There was much to discover. The platform has resources, articles and helpful tools for all aspects of life. For example, as a new parent I found the tips on returning to the workplace after parental leave helpful.
  3. Build a relationship with a mental health professional.
    This year I want to build a solid foundation with a mental health professional while I am feeling good. I know I will be more likely to reach out for support from someone I trust and with whom I have a built relationship when life inevitably gets tough. If you’re looking for a mental health professional, MyHealth Alberta is a great place to start.
  4. Remember you are not alone.
    It is easy to feel alone in the classroom. Keep ASEBP’s It Takes a Village ( open in your browser. It is a space for all things related to teacher well-being in Alberta. Find links to podcasts, like Teacher Fan Club, and other resources connecting you with colleagues and other professionals in Alberta’s education sector. You will be surprised at how much the wider education community wants to help teachers and school staff feel their best.
  5. Set up a great read.
    Read for self-care. Between the public libraries across the province and the ATA library, you have so many great reads at your disposal!

    I suggest Teacher, Take Care: A Guide to Well-Being and Workplace Wellness for Educators. Written for teachers and by teachers who know teaching can be both highly rewarding and overwhelming. Sometimes in the same 10 minutes! This book covers it all — from stress management to mental well-being — and asks you to explore what these concepts really mean for you and how they can become practices beyond a to-do list. Consider hosting a book club with your colleagues to really dig into what this book offers.

Remember, what you do for yourself matters. Students thrive when their teachers and school staff are well — it is the foundation of a healthy school culture.

Remember, what you do for yourself matters. Students thrive when their teachers and school staff are well — it is the foundation of a healthy school culture. 

Your well-being needs to be incorporated into your plan for the school year. Yes, self-care will look different than it does in the summer and that is okay. However, making plans to take care of your mental health is part of the job. You are what makes the classroom run. 

And hey, if you need a reminder of how awesome you are, reach out to me at I got you. ❚

Megan Hunter is the founder and social innovator at Peak + Prairie Co. Health Promotion, specializing in physical well-being and psychological health and safety consulting. 

Megan Hunter
Megan Hunter

Founder and Social Innovator, Peak + Prairie Co. Health Promotion